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Rule by rentier

Krugman in the Times:

While the ostensible reasons for inflicting pain keep changing, however, the policy prescriptions of the Pain Caucus all have one thing in common: They protect the interests of creditors, no matter the cost. Deficit spending could put the unemployed to work — but it might hurt the interests of existing bondholders. More aggressive action by the Fed could help boost us out of this slump — in fact, even Republican economists have argued that a bit of inflation might be exactly what the doctor ordered — but deflation, not inflation, serves the interests of creditors. And, of course, there’s fierce opposition to anything smacking of debt relief.

Who are these creditors I’m talking about? Not hard-working, thrifty small business owners and workers, although it serves the interests of the big players to pretend that it’s all about protecting little guys who play by the rules. The reality is that both small businesses and workers are hurt far more by the weak economy than they would be by, say, modest inflation that helps promote recovery.
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It would be funny if it wasn’t so true

Charles Lechner of Organizing 2.0 does a great sendup of the Beltway’s non-profit-intern-industrial complex:

Wanted: New Media Summer Intern

Our prestigious liberal organization is well connected in the high flying advocacy and lobbying world. If you spend time with us you will come to understand precisely how the DC swamp connecting money, politicians and influence actually works, and how liberal organizations like ours fit neatly into that world through our connections to funders and organizations representing special interests.

Our preference is for a college graduate from an Ivy League college confident they belong in the world of the power elite and with parents who can pay $800/month rent for two months, so you can be working for free with us instead of getting a real, but far lower status job. While officially we frown on nepotism, any family affiliations you might have to movement VIP’s will definitely be taken into account. That said, our goal is to make you work very hard, for free, on the kinds of tasks that require little training. Furthermore, as someone we say goodbye to at the end of the summer, we are unlikely to invest very much in your training. There are books in the self-help section at Amazon that will teach you to make the most of it with a positive mental attitude. You should probably read one of them now.

Our premise is that the right parentally-subsidized internship, with the right sorts of important organizations like ours can ensure your professional success in ways that paid work cannot. Our willingness to use your free labor represents our commitment to a growing and valued underclass of future superstars. No joke!

Applicants should understand that interns are fungible, that working for us for free is a privilege, that job descriptions are suggestions at best, and that any resentment you feel in the future is a product of youthful idealism and inability to see the ‘big picture.’ You see, we do important things.

To apply, please find a way to meet me at the right sort of DC happy hour and strike up a conversation that holds my interest for at least thirty seconds. Being physically attractive and well-dressed is a plus. We welcome applicants from any background that will change the shocking lack of diversity in our office.


Director of Intern Acquisition

The confidence fairy

Wonder why Obama isn’t talking about jobs? Because Tim Geithner has convinced him to do the exact thing that will make it worse: Cut spending.


Beltway translation: WTF?

But some administration allies fear the administration is doing more than keeping a low profile or biding its time — that it is actively reinforcing conservative dogma, at a moment when the jobs report may have created an opportunity to shift the economic debate away from budget imbalances and towards employment. “I understand the constraints of the moment,” says another senior Democrat, “but I’m not sure what’s gained by giving any oxygen to the incorrect idea that fiscal austerity right now would be expansionary.”

A real penis story

But you will most likely not see it in your corporate media:

As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — one of the largest and most influential big business lobbying groups in the world — fired a letter off to Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, telling him to block the regulation of extremely toxic chemicals in consumer plastics. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the dangers of such chemicals, the chamber letter declares that that EPA “lacks the sound regulatory science needed to meet the statutory threshold for a restriction or ban of the targeted chemicals.”

A wide body of scientific research has linked these chemicals, including phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), to declining birth ratesstillbirths, and an increasing number of birth defects. Many of the chemicals under review for increased regulation have already been banned in Europe and Canada.

In fact, studies have shown that these plastic chemicals are directly linked to an alarming rate of male genital birth defects such as hypospadias, a condition in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside, rather than at the end, of the penis. A report by the Center for American Progress’ Reese Rushing details many other risks associated with the chemicals slated for regulation.

The Chamber letter to Sunstein is signed by chief lobbyist Bill Kovacs. Why is Kovacs fighting so aggressively to continue to allow birth defect and miscarriage-causing chemicals to be used in household items and food containers? Perhaps it is because the Chamber is heavily funded by some of the largest plastics manufacturers in America. According to investigations by the New York Times and ThinkProgress, Dow Chemical and Proctor & Gamble have contributed millions to the Chamber’s war chest in recent years.

Oh, Orrin

We already are a second-rate nation! If you ever got out of the Beltway bubble, you’d know that.


On top of everything else these poor people have to deal with:

(AP) JOPLIN, Mo. – An aggressive fungus is striking Joplin tornado victims, contributing to a handful of deaths.

Doctors told the Springfield News-Leader that at least nine survivors may have contracted blood-vessel invading zygomycosis infections.

Overall numbers weren’t available. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department declined to release them, citing patient privacy concerns.

Kendra Williams, of the health department, says the common fungus likely came from soil or vegetative materials imbedded in the skin by the tornado.


The scandal-ridden Philadelphia Housing Authority is one of the non-profits that just had that status yanked by the IRS.


Look at what a great job the Japanese government has done, cleaning up after the earthquake. Compare that with the U.S. response to Katrina…


It’s not just Florida. Close by my neigborhood (and let’s not kid ourselves, probably right in my neighborhood) are a hellacious number of Oxy addicts.

My favorite local blog, Philly Neighbor, points out the industriousness with with Oxy addicts supply themselves:

Even a Kenzo* only moderately addicted to Oxycontin will spend thousands of dollars a year on the drug. An Oxy 80 pill costs roughly $50. If the Kenzo snorts just one a day for an entire year, he will spend over $18,000.

And that figure doesn’t include other drug-related expenses. During his junky adventures, a Kenzo is going to purchase at least a few Xanax pills, bags of wet, and eightballs of cocaine. A Kenzo with a truly robust drug habit may need upwards of $40,000 a year just to cover his bases. And, of course, by “cover his bases” I mean “the need to nearly overdose every fucking day.”

With huge narco-expenses, a very small number of Kenzos can actually afford to pay a monthly rent. Therefore, any Kenzo who goes through life happily munching mouthfuls of pills will learn how to be homeless.

*A Kenzo is technically a resident, present or former, of Kensington, the local Junkie Central hood, but it is also refers to a state of mind, like ghetto: “That is so ghetto!” The Kenzos are a fact of life, like taxes. About 40 years ago, Kensington was a nice little blue-collar area with a vibrant strip of local stores, much like the one I live in now — until the factories closed down. Now it’s famous instead for the intersection of Kensington and Somerset avenues, where there’s an open-air, 24/7 drug bazaar. It was recently famous for its serial killer, but once he was caught, city officials went back to ignoring the area’s crime problem and concentrate instead on keeping it from reaching the East Kensington and Fishtown hipsters.


For the Great Hamster of Alsace!

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